08/04/2011 10:36AM

Northlands: Professor Pollard on edge for Westerner

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Trainer Jim Meyaard isn’t sure if he is going to run Salt Flat Speed in the $50,000 Westerner at Northlands Park Saturday or leave him in the $40,000 optional claiming race he is entered on Friday night. Meyaard is positive, however, that his other Westerner entrant, Professor Pollard, is ready to run a big race in the 1 1/16-mile stakes, and he should be favored in the six-horse field.

Professor Pollard has won his last two races at Northlands, and Meyaard was planning on giving him a little more time off after he was all out to beat Footprint by a neck in the $50,000 Don Fleming going 1 1/16 miles July 22. Meyaard was considering the $75,000 Speed to Spare on Aug. 20 as Professor Pollard’s next start but changed his mind when the classy 4-year-old Alberta-bred indicated he wanted more to do.

“He’s telling me he wants to run now and you have to listen to your horses,” said Meyaard. “We were looking at training him up to the Speed to Spare, but he is really on his toes and he is a sound horse right now. Things change quickly and who knows if he would have stayed this good until the Speed to Spare.”

As for Salt Flat Speed, Meyaard was leaning towards keeping him in Friday’s race, where he is entered for the claiming price.

“He’s a step slower and he has a few nagging problems, nothing serious, and six furlongs looks a lot better than a mile and a sixteenth for him,” he said. “We’ll see.”

Rico Walcott is named on both horses but will ride Professor Pollard. Meyaard mentioned Fernando Perez as a possible rider for Salt Flat Speed.

Footprint, the 2007 Grade 3 Canadian Derby winner, is a sharp horse at the moment. He easily handled Salt Flat Speed in the Spangled Jimmy and then lost a hard-fought battle with Professor Pollard in the Don Fleming. Trained by Joan Petrowski, Footprint is versatile, and jockey Anthony Salgado can either put him on the lead or ease him into a stalking position.

Mr. Shadar finished second in the Westerner last year and then reeled off four wins in a row, which included three stakes races. Trained by Rick Hedge, Mr. Shadar finished second in a one-mile $40,000 optional race July 29 and he has similar form coming into the Westerner that he had last year. He could be ready to start another strong run.

Diamond Doc and Against the Tide round out the field. Diamond Doc is also entered in the same race as Salt Flat Speed on Friday.